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    ICC's Inquiry Into US War Crimes: Will Justice Be Served?

    © AFP 2018/ POOL//Brennan Linsley
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    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by different parties including the US military and CIA servicemen on the territory of Afghanistan and other countries since 2003. RIA Novosti political observer Vladimir Ardaev posed the question what impact the probe would have on the US.

    On November 20, 2017 Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), requested authorization to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed, in particular, by members of the US armed forces and the CIA on the territory of Afghanistan since May 2003. According to RIA Novosti political observer Vladimir Ardaev, this move begs the question of whether justice would be served.

    Commenting on Bensouda's initiative, Ardaev pointed out that almost simultaneously the ICC has resumed the investigation into alleged crimes committed by British armed forces in Iraq in the period from 2003 to 2008.

    However, while the UK is a participant in the ICC, Washington does not recognize the authority of the international body, the RIA Novosti contributor highlighted.

    The ICC was founded in 2002 to "bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind — war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide" under the Rome Statute adopted at a diplomatic summit in Rome in 1998.

    Currently Russia, China and some other major states are not parties to the Rome Statute. As for the US, its policy concerning the ICC appears to be somewhat inconsistent, according to Ardaev: former US President Bill Clinton inked the Rome Statute in 2000 but the Bush administration withdrew its intent for ratification in 2002.

    The journalist pointed out that following the September 11, 2001 terror attack President George W. Bush permitted so-called "extended interrogation techniques" — a neologism for torture practices.

    Ardaev noted that while Barack Obama banned controversial interrogation techniques, his successor, President Donald Trump, stated that torture "absolutely works" when it comes to the fight against terrorism.

    "The information available provides a reasonable basis to believe that members of United States of America ("US") armed forces and members of the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA") committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations," the ICC document read.

    It further specified that "a limited number of alleged crimes associated with the Afghan armed conflict are alleged to have been committed on the territories of Poland, Romania and Lithuania," in CIA secret detention centers.  

    The document emphasized that a series of congressional inquiries which shed light on tough interrogation practices exercised by US military servicemen and CIA in Afghanistan have not resulted in "national investigations," while no "prosecutions have been conducted or are ongoing in the US" against individuals or groups involved in the conduct of the alleged crimes.

    Despite the fact the US did not join the ICC, some of the controversial American interrogation activities took place in countries party to the Rome Statute, Ardaev underscored.

    The ICC document highlighted that "criminal investigations  are reportedly ongoing in Poland, Romania and Lithuania regarding alleged crimes committed in relation to the CIA detention facilities on their respective territories," citing the fact that the Statute entered into force for Poland and Romania on July 1, 2002 and for Lithuania on August 1, 2003.

    Speaking to RIA Novosti, Alexander Glushenkov, a Russian attorney specializing in international law, suggested that the citizens of the US convicted by the ICC could face persecution in the countries which are parties to the Rome Statute.

    "There they can be detained, and this would be the cause for a big diplomatic scandal," Glushenkov said.

    For his part, Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, opined that in case the US citizens are found guilty in the course of the investigation it would result in nothing but  scandalous hype across the globe which would, apparently, be used by Donald Trump for his own interests.

    It is hard to imagine that any repressive measures would be taken against American citizens as a result of legal proceedings in the ICC, according to Lukyanov.

    "Much will depend on what kind of evidence the court will manage to collect," he told RIA Novosti. "If the world will see any visual materials, for example, photos, as it was in the case with the Abu Ghraib special prison, it could really stir up the international community."

    The views and opinions expressed by Vladimir Ardaev, Alexander Glushenkov, Fyodor Lukyanov are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    crimes against humanity, crime, investigation, torture, war crimes, NATO, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), International Criminal Court (ICC), Pentagon, Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Lithuania, Afghanistan, Poland, United States, Romania
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